The thing about ZZ Top is they never seem to take themselves too seriously. No concept albums or big love ballads… just good old fashion boogie blues rock.
I saw them in 1983 in Nashville. I remember the light show was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it since. Near the end they made it look as if the stage was shaking and someone fell out of the lighting rig to the stage. Everyone at first thought it was a real person but it was a stuffed dummy.
They sounded great that night and it’s a concert I’ll never forget. The Little Ol’ Band from Texas didn’t disappoint. Who knew at that time they would be be together over 50 years with the same members they started out with.
The death of Dusty Hill had me to pull out Tres Hombres and give it another listen. Compared to other trios like Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience…ZZ Top played more in a groove. Dusty wasn’t all over the place on bass but he kept that bottom end grounded for Gibbons guitar to dance around in while Beard was locked with Dusty.
Tres Hombres was released in 1973. The album had four of their best known early songs such as La Grange, Waitin’ For The Bus, Jesus Just Left Chicago, and this one.
The album peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 in 1973 and #13 in Canada…thanks to Vic (The Hinoeuma Cosmic Observation) for the Canada info.
Billy Gibbons: “On to a gig in Phoenix, we were driving through a West Texas windstorm. We, the band, were waiting to discover a place with some safe ground cover when the late-night lights of a roadside joint appeared. It was just across the line outside El Paso into New Mexico.
We ducked in quick and came face to face with our kind of folks… those soulful souls seeking solace, not only out of the dust and sand, but out of mind. What chance does one get better than that! We joined the gathering and started scribbling.”
Group composition “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers” (with or without the ampersand) is a fun track with the band playing up to their Southern redneck image. Unusually, bass player Dusty Hill supplies the lead vocal, backed up by axeman Gibbons.
It has been suggested that the line, “Baby, don’t you wanna come with me?” means something a little more explicit than, “Would you like to accompany me to the honky-tonk, miss?” If that is indeed the case, then the censor missed it; although it was not released as a single it received considerable airplay, including in the UK, where in 1973 this sort of innuendo would not have been tolerated by the BBC.
The original version runs to 3 minutes 23 seconds, and the song has been covered by both Van Halen and Motörhead, the latter of whom produced a blistering track with some fine and innovative soloing by Fast Eddie Clarke, but as is often the case, the original has not been bettered.
Here is a live version from 1980. I don’t like posting live versions unless they were done around the time of the release…this is as close as I could find as far as a video of them.
Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
If you see me walkin’ down the line
with my fav’rite honky tonk in mind,
well, I’ll be here around suppertime
with my can of dinner and a bunch of fine.
Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah.
Uh-huh-huh, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?
The crowd gets loud when the band gets right,
steel guitar cryin’ through the night.
Yeah, try’n to cover up the corner fight
but ev’rything’s cool ’cause they’s just tight.
Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah.
Huh, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?
Ah, play it boy.
The joint was jumpin’ like a cat on hot tin.
Lord, I thought the floor was gonna give in.
Soundin’ a lot like a House Congressional
’cause we’re experimental and professional.
Beer drinkers, hell raisers, yeah.
Well, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?